All posts filed under: General History

Street Scenes Summer: From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Final chapter

Spring and Fall seemed to merge quietly in and out of Summer, so that the change was not as sharp as for the winter season. Ploughing and planting the market gardens was the first consideration in many places. The deep ruts in the road filled in, and gradually the mud roads were again ready for summer driving. Store windows took on a fresh look–painting and cleaning up was general. Street vendors and peddlers again resumed their selling from wagons and curb. The fruit peddlers shouting, “Strawberry ripe, Strawberry ripe” and selling at bargain prices Then “Fly Paper John” resumed his calling selling fly paper which he made himself. His cheery chant of “Fly paper all, Fly paper all, catch all your black beetles as well as your flys all” as he walked slowly along; the street, selling from a small wicker basket, was a sure sign of summer. The Woodbine races started, and on the 24th of May, we always watched the buggies, surreys, cabs and the final thrill when the coach and four would …

STREET SCENES From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks, Part 15

Long, flat·sleighs, drawn by a team of horses, hauling blocks of ice from the Bay to the icehouses. Farmer’s sleighs with fresh killed pigs, five or six to a load, all cleaned, stiff and stark, also turkey, chickens and geese, plucked and ready for cooking. The farmer’s wife or son bundled in furs and buffalo robes, and perhaps hot bricks wrapped in bags to keep the feet warm. Sleigh bells. Chimes of bells on a strap around the horse. Larger bells attached to the top harness of the horse. Bells fastened on the shafts of the sleigh. High cutters, drawn by fast stepping horses, (single) with fancy silver-plated bells attached to the harness. Jingle Bells” really had some meaning, and when a number of sleighs were on the street, it was music that is entirely unknown today. Horse-drawn streetcars with pea straw on the floor, to keep the feet warm. The driver on an outside platform exposed to all weathers. A whip in one hand and the reins of the horse in the other. It …

Summer Holidays from Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks, Part 14

Summer Holidays By Samuel Herbert (1876-1966) To the small boy the summer holidays were the paradise of the year. Shoes and stockings could be discarded. The old swimming hole in the Bay was again patronized. Flat bottom scow boats were used for fishing over at the deep hole, and in going back and forth to the Island, or as it was called “the sandbar.” The lake was often too cold for swimming. There were always a hundred things to be done in the long summer days.   The street noises–peddlers shouting their wares, selling fish, fruit or vegetables. The knife sharpener, with his stone wheel and bell, walking slowly along the street.   The ice cream man, selling a dip of ice cream for a cent, and then the ice man with his canvas-covered wagon, drawn by one or perhaps two horses delivering blocks of ice to the stores for refrigeration, and sometimes a good-sized chunk of ice would drop off the wagon. It was very soon picked up.   If you had a copper …

Illegal Shooting From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 13

    Illegal Hunting From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 13 by Samuel Herbert (1876-1966) When I was about fourteen years of age, I bought a “Flobert” single shot .22 rifle and was very proud of it. I kept it for eight or nine years and as I had plenty of practice in the fields and Ashbridges Bay, I developed into a pretty good shot. On one occasion I was coming home across the fields from the direction of Logan Avenue, — not having fired a shot, although there was a shell in the breech. A member of the police force [Detective Stuart Burrows], who kept a good trotting horse and also a flock of game birds lived up the street quite a little distance from our place. I rested the rifle on the fence, and allowing for wind and distance, took careful aim and fired, never thinking I would really hit the target. However, the rooster rolled down the pile and lay still. I got panicky, and though of jail, police court, fines and …

Wood’s Hotel From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 12

From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 12 By Samuel Herbert (1876-1966) WOOD’S HOTEL Where Carlaw Avenue now cuts through north of Queen Street there was situated on the north side of the Kingston Road a hotel called “Woods Hotel.” A row of tall poplar trees shaded the front. In the yard behind the hotel, was a small zoo. Peacocks, guinea hens, a couple of monkeys and a number of dogs of different nationalities.  An old darkey, who, gossip said, was an ex-slave was the custodian of the animals, and he was also the porter of the hotel. The hotel people cut down six of the tall trees which were at the front and shaped the stumps in the form of chairs, and they were really easy and nice to sit in. There was also a large wooden watering trough for horses. I remember watching a fight in front of the hotel and one of the men knocked the other into the watering trough and held him there until he was thoroughly soaked. It seemed …

Lumber Yards from Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 13

Just east of Pape, on the north side of the Kingston Road was situated Martin McKee’s residence, lumber yard and planing mill. He had one of the first telephones in the district. He employed quite a number of men, and was well known and highly respected. It is said, that sometimes small incidents will be remembered long after those of more importance are forgotten. As an example, on dozens of occasions I have stood in the boiler room of the planing mill, just a short distance from the large flat driving belt, and held out my hand just a few inches from it, watching the sparks of electricity jumping from my finger tips to the belt.  Don’t ask me what caused it, I do not know. A mile stone was just outside the lumber yard on the Kingston Road, stating “two miles to Petley and Petley at the Market.” There were two frame cottages just east of the lumber yard on the Kingston Road, and I heard that Alexander Muir lived for some time in …

BLACKSMITH SHOPS from Mud Roads & Plank Sidewalks Part 12

From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 10 By Samuel Herbert (1876-1866) Now we will go from Grocery stores to Blacksmith shops and Saw Mills. Blacksmith shops were still one of the industries in every community.     “Billy” Mason, an uncle of mine, had a well-established business just east of Logan Avenue on the north side of the Kingston Road. It was up-to-date in every particular. I used to visit it quite often, and can still recall the odour of a burning horse’s hoof as an almost red-hot shoe was fitted, then a little more hammering on the anvil, and then the shoe plunged in a half barrel of water to cool, and it was ready. A large bellows worked by hand kept the fire at any temperature required. To see blacksmiths at work go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYezhKql_AI Morrison and Bolton had a blacksmith shop further east on the same side of the Kingston Road, just about where Boston Avenue is now. Mr. Morrison was a specialist on the very fine light shoes worn by racehorses …

Grocery Store from Mud Roads & Plank Sidewalks Part 11

In 1889, my father and mother died within the year, and the executor of the small estate invited me to live with him. He kept a grocery store at the north-east corner of Queen and Pape, and had a thriving business. The store was up to date in every way for that period. I would say that about sixty per cent of the business was on a credit basis, not the kind of iron clad credit as carried on to-day, but more of a “we trust you” idea and what dire results sometimes followed for the grocer. A customer would run up a bill of fifteen or twenty dollars, and then pay a few dollars on account, and then order groceries for the family for another week or so. When payment was requested the customer might be quite insulted, and pay a few dollars on account for a week or so and then quit altogether. I think the grocer could have papered a room with the unpaid bills on his books.  The hours were long, …

PIGEON AND SPARROW SHOOTS From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 10

PIGEON AND SPARROW SHOOTS From Mud Roads and Plank Sidewalks Part 10 By Samuel Herbert (1876-1866) The Stanley Gun Club held regular Pigeon and Sparrow shoot in Stark’s Athletic Grounds, about opposite McGee Street, south of Eastern Avenue where commercial industries are now located. Its members came from different parts of the city, mostly from the east end, and the sport was very popular. Old residents who were ardent shooters have passed on years ago and many keen matches were shot out with money wagered on both sides. One match that stands out clearly in my memory was between two well known prominent residents of the east end. There was light snow on the ground, and the match was “miss and out”. Twenty-four birds had been killed by each of the contestants. It was getting late in the afternoon and a little snow on the ground. Visibility was poor. A white pigeon was placed surreptitiously in one of the traps, and when the word “pull” was given, the pigeon was just faintly discernable. The contestant …

Mystery of the Hanging Cat of Greenwood & Queen

Mystery of the Hanging Cat of Greenwood & Queen Once long ago, above the door of a tavern at the northwest corner of Kingston Road and Greenwood’s lane, there hung a sign. Now, most taverns had signs but this one was different. Forty years after the tavern closed people still remembered the sign described below. Why would the innkeeper have such a macabre image outside the Puritan tavern? That is the mystery I set out to solve. First I had to find the back story of the Greenwoods who owned the Puritan Tavern. John Greenwood was born in 1822 in England. He married Anna or Anne Lowe and they had three children together. Their son Joseph (1845-1933) was born on December 7, 1845, in Leicester, Leicestershire, England. They lived in Hinckley, just outside Leicester, where John Greenwood was a carriage maker, but not just any kind of carriage maker. He made Hansom cabs. Joseph Hansom, invented the hansom cab in Hinckley in 1834. Not long after the Greenwoods moved to Derby. Derby became an important …